I offer this as a visual breath mint/palate cleanser after a couple of negative type posts from the morning. I am sticking my neck out there, as I (and Kris, too!) did prior to the series, to say that these Hawks are not done and will not be done at the end of Game 6.
Why? Because they've got to, mister.
I'm not going to wait until TNT interviews me prior to the game, like Carlos Boozer did on video, to make the grand statement:
The Hawks will win.
This team, as I've said ad nauseam, plays its best not when it can choose to, but when there is no other choice. There was that feeling after the first quarter of Game 5 when the Hawks were playing like they had to, and then lost their way against a more energetically effective Bulls crew in the fourth quarter.
Now, facing elimination, at home, the Hawks have no choice to come out from the very beginning of Game 6 playing their best. And if this playoff run has shown anything (I mean, other than this....or this) it's that when the Hawks play their best, they can beat anyone.
I expect there will be more of an effort to give Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, et al some additional rest, though the "bench" hasn't made that easy, especially given Jamal Crawford's struggles in this round. The rest would, theoretically, be a boon to duplicate Game 4's fourth quarter advantage and avoid the Game 5 collapse.
The Bulls, knowing that they have a cushy United Center Game 7 waiting for them, can't match the level of desperation--just like in Game 4, right? That would put the Bulls behind, and the Hawks ahead, where they do a pretty good job of playing from ahead in these playoffs.
And if leading going into the fourth, the Hawks could hope that the Bulls play Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver again down the stretch together rather than Taj Gibson and Omer Asik for more scoring.
I mean, this series has featured less than stellar play from Al Horford and Crawford, and inconsistent outings from Josh Smith and Johnson. Statistically, there has to be a game that remedies that and it all comes together, or so all of Peachtree Hoops' statisticians tell me. Doing it in Chicago is a pretty tall task, especially since they aren't even guaranteed to play there yet. So it's Game 6 that it all comes together.
Whether they can pull off a Game 7 upset is for us to speculate afterwards, but for now, get excited Hawks fans, and prepare for the series that never was thought to go even this far by more than half of the experts at ESPN to go one more game.
*(not a guarantee. checks will not be honored.)